If you think this nesting doll of names is odd, even in our era of bloated naming opportunities at cultural institutions, you would be right. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. In Los Angeles, every third arts building seems to be named Geffen or Broad, while in San Diego it’s the Jacobs moniker that’s over many a front door. Fine. Rarely, however, do big, raised letters of a naming opportunity inside a museum room identify the same donor whose name is also in big, raised letters on the edifice outside. Virtually never is the art on view made by the same-named patron.
Welcome to Long Beach. Here at Cal State University, Kleefelds in the Kleefeld at the Kleefeld are the new norm. Disturbingly so. It’s a train wreck, and a serious disservice is being done to students. The show, which features 10 canvases and 13 works on paper, is a small selection from a gift that the artist made to the museum, including 74 of her
paintings and 104 of her drawings. Kleefeld art is now about 6% of the museum’s permanent collection. (I’m unaware of its presence in any other museum’s collection.) Her own art will rotate in her dedicated gallery. Also donated were her library, a personal archive and copies of more than 20 inspirational books she has written.
Did I mention the $10-million check? That came too. Cal State Long Beach raised $24 million to expand and refurbish the former University Art Museum, in operation since 1973, by 4,000 square feet. (It reopened in February.) There are now three exhibition galleries rather than two, a works on paper archive, a classroom, expanded collection storage and a
capacious entry hall. A vestibule features one painting and a large, inspirational
wall text printed on plexiglass — both by Kleefeld.